Archive for category Mighty Good Recipe
If you’ve been following my blog for any amount of time, you know how much I love Rattle’s Garden, the small-ish farm in Vilonia run by the Staintons. I’m a member of their summer Farmshare program, which I pick up every Saturday morning during the summertime at the Hillcrest Farmers Market. More recently, I also joined the fall Farmshare program. Over the past few weeks, I’ve received peppers, turnips, cucumbers, squash, and purple hull peas.
After living in Little Rock for the past five years, there is one culinary fact … people go crazy over purple-hull peas. And for good reason, it’s simple comfort food that takes you back to a warm and fuzzy place. Just in case you’ve never cooked them at home, I wanted to share with you this very easy crockpot recipe that includes just a few ingredients.
Truth be told, I’ve really shied away from using the crockpot the past few years, especially as it pertains to meat recipes. The more I cook, the less enthused I am about overcooking meat. Granted, the slow cooker is a vessel of convenience, but nowadays I find that vegetable/bean-based recipes like the one below are better suited for 8 hours of low heat cooking. Enjoy!
-1 lb. purple-hull peas
-6 cups chicken stock
-slices of uncooked bacon (chopped)
-2 cups of frozen okra
-salt and pepper to taste
Place all of the ingredients in the slow cooker. Set on LOW for 8 hours. That’s it! And if you need a great mashed potatoes recipe, click here.
*Special thanks to my friend Paul Ward for donating the delicious homegrown okra used for this recipe.
I rarely brag about my at-home cooking abilities. I’m a good cook, but certainly not a great one, and I definitely tend to shy away from the more adventurous recipes. With all that said, I cooked something pretty spectacular this past weekend, and truth be told, the local ingredients are what really made the dish so fantastic. Most of them came out of my local Rattle’s Garden farmshare, along with some beautiful tomatoes given to me by a friend. Enough with the small talk. Here’s my Cast Iron Skillet Eggplant Parmesan…
2 large eggplants (peeled)
3 cloves of chopped garlic
1 medium chopped onion
6 large tomatoes (peeled)
2 cups seasoned bread crumbs
3 eggs (scrambled)
1-2 cups of mozzarella cheese
3/4 cup of Parmesan cheese
salt and pepper to taste
2 pinches of sugar
2 tablespoons of olive oil
1. You’ll want to first peel the tomatoes. The easiest way (at least for me) is to cut a small “X” into the bottom of each tomato, boil for about 30 seconds, and then transfer to an ice bath. The skin peels right off. Chop all of the tomatoes into big chunks and leave them on your cutting board for the time being.
3. In a large pot, heat your olive oil on medium and then add the chopped onions. Cook for about 5 minutes and then add the garlic. Cook for 1 minute and add your tomatoes. Add salt, pepper, and sugar. Simmer for 1 hour. During this time, periodically take a fork and smash the tomatoes, creating a chunky sauce.
3. Heat your oven to 350 degrees. Take your peeled eggplant and cut into VERY thin rounds. If you have a mandolin at home, this works great. Take each round and dip into egg mixture and then into bread crumbs. Transfer each round to a cookie sheet. Bake for 5 minutes on each side. Remove from oven and let cool. *Note: for time purposes, it helps to have multiple cookie sheets and a double oven.
4. Take a cast iron skillet and add a huge scoop of the tomato sauce (spread around). Next, add a layer of eggplant rounds, then add shredded mozzarella and Parmesan. Keep layering with eggplant, sauce, and cheese until you reach just a little below the top of the skillet.
5. Bake for 35 minutes at 350 degrees. Remove and garnish with fresh basil.
I also recommend boiling up some good pasta to accompany the eggplant Parmesan, especially if you have some excess tomato sauce.
I know what some of y’all are thinking. Tofu?!?!? No way in hell I am eating tofu. But before you completely turn your nose up at it, check out this Chinese Mapo Tofu recipe.
I made it a few weeks back and was impressed with how delicious it tasted and how easy it was to make. One of the keys to enjoying tofu is getting a texture/firmness that is to your liking. This recipe uses a firm tofu, a preference of mine, and one that can also stand up to the stir-fry cooking process without breaking apart.
All of the ingredients are super easy to find, and with the exception of maybe the bean sauce, they can all be found at Kroger. I purchased my bean sauce at K Oriental on Bowman for something like $4 a bottle.
Like most stir-fry recipes, the key is prepping all of your ingredients beforehand. Once that pan is piping hot, you better be ready to go. If you’re not a fan of ground pork, you can certainly substitute ground chicken or turkey … or even go vegetarian. I’ve made it both ways (meat/no meat) and was happy each time. This Mapo Tofu goes great over a pile of steamed rice.
A few weeks back, I invited a few friends over for a relaxed evening of good food and wine. My cooking theme was Chinese … and I’m talking about REALLY Americanized Chinese food.
I prepared dishes like Chicken Chop Suey, Pork Potstickers, Egg Drop Soup, Stir-Fried Tofu,and Mongolian Beef.
I’ve always loved Chinese food. At the age of six, Golden Star Restaurant in Houston was my first food crush, so to be able to re-create some of these dishes in my own home has always been super fun, albeit, at times quite disappointing. It was also one of the first cuisines I tried to truly master early on in my cooking endeavors. To this day, my attempt at Teriyaki Chicken in college goes down as my worst dish ever.
Eighteen years later, and with tons of failures and successes under my belt, I still get a little excited about cooking Chinese food at home. I guess the process of it all has always fascinated me. So much attention is devoted to preparation—going to the K Oriental on Bowman, lining up all of the ingredients the counter, and washing and chopping veggies. Everything has to be at your fingertips, because once that first snow pea hits the oil, all hell breaks loose for about 10 minutes.
It’s a cooking rush!
Anyways, I wanted to share one of the recipes for Mongolian Beef. Don’t laugh, I found this P.F. Chang’s knock-off recipe, made a few adjustments, and damn if it wasn’t fantastic.
Here are my suggestions:
1. Follow the directions precisely, but add some chopped boy choy and fresh sprouts to the mix.
2. Buy yourself an excellent quality flank steak. Spend a few more bucks … believe me, it makes a difference. One suggestion is to go to H.A.M. For mine, I was able to score some Creekstone Beef at Weldon’s in Hot Springs.
3. Make more of a meal out of it by preparing some basic egg noodles and tossing them in at the end.
Enjoy this recipe … and I hope you have just as much fun cooking it as I did.